The girl in the photo department at Walgreen’s was very helpful when I came to print my photo, but still, the edges were clipped and I had to go home and redo the sizing in Photoshop. She liked the photo and so I told her I would give her one when I got them to print correctly. I have been trying to catch her at work for several days now, having gotten her name from her coworkers when I described her as the bubbly girl with kind of short hair.
Tonight, I saw her on duty and went home to get the photo for her. She laughed at hearing I had described her as the bubbly one when I asked where she was. She was thrilled that I had remembered my promise and told me she was going to frame it and where she was going to put it in her house. We hugged and told each other Merry Christmas. And I told her to keep bubbling, and she smiled and bubbled a giggle or two. It felt good to share a brief moment of Christmas joy with a stranger.
My two uncles came today to visit my mother. One of them had his son and daughter-in-law and their three-week-old baby with them. I saw them for a few minutes before I headed out to finish up a few more things. They took pictures of the baby and pictures of my mom and her brothers together. Pictures, they took pictures.
The pictures become important because there was a wreck on their way home. They were hit broadside. My uncle died instantly. My cousin had surgery to remove a ruptured spleen and will require surgery on a broken hip and wrist at a later date. He does not even know yet about his father. His wife suffered head injuries but seems to be coming around. Her eyes are swollen shut and her mouth is pretty busted up. The baby was all right, safely ensconced in his car seat.
A stop sign had been vandalized and pushed down. A man who was not familiar with the area ran the stop sign, not even knowing there was one there. How horrible he must feel.
Already this Christmas had felt to me like a Christmas of contrast, a Christmas of loss, a Christmas where the blessings would be small and simple—the sharing of a hurricane photo with a stranger at Walgreens, a wonderful last visit with this brother, this uncle, this father, this grandfather who is now gone from us.
I am reminded of a quote by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”
There comes a time when the question begs to be asked -- Why? Why?
And yet, in the darkness, when those things have vanished that we can not bring back, the light that I speak so fondly of, it does still shine. Even so, prayers for all would be appreciated, prayers for my mother, for my uncle's grown children, for the two grandkids who are old enough to know PawPaw is not coming back, for the little one who will never get to know his grandfather and for the man who was driving the other vehicle. We all will have to wake up in the morning and know that this is reality and not just a terrible dream.